Buying a property in Portugal follows a similar process to that of the UK. However, it is important to note that as an Expatriate, there are other considerations to make.
Whilst it is not necessary to be able to understand the language you must have someone helping you who does. Usually that person will be your Lawyer or Solicitor as there is a large amount of technical Portuguese involved in the buying process.
We cannot get into the fine print of buying a property here, but we can explain the basic process that will be followed in the purchase.
In order to purchase a property you need to have a Fiscal Number (numero de identificação fiscal or NIF). This can be obtained from the Finanças department at the council offices (camara municipal). When you obtain this you need to provide a proof of address (this can be a utility bill or a Bank or credit card statement. In order to open a bank account in Portugal, you need to have your NIF number and also provide copies of your passport, plus proof of your address.
Once you have found your property, you need to agree a price, usually through your estate agent. Generally it can be agreed that the property will be taken off the market, however, that is not always the case as many owners have the property marketed by more than one estate agent.
It is a good idea to appoint a solicitor or lawyer to act on your behalf. As a general rule of thumb, a solicitor will only perform the basic functions required to ensure a legal purchase and a lawyer will perform more thorough investigations during the purchase. For that reason it may be better to use a lawyer for your work, although you must expect to pay a larger fee than you would with a solicitor.
There are documents that need to be provided with a house to prove its readiness for sale. These are:
Plus the seller needs to have provided their personal details - Tax Number (NIF) and Identity document to prove who they are.
The solicitor/lawyer will check that there are no other interested parties. This is particularly important in Portugal as much of the older property and land that is available has been passed down through families over many years. This means that there may be a second-cousin-twice-removed that has a 1/18th share in the property. All interested parties, no matter how small need to agree to the sale.
Another point to note is that in some councils you will need a topographical survey to be performed on the land to ensure that the boundaries are correct. Traditionally, everyone knew everyone else in the villages and also where their land started and finished. The boundaries were marked by specific rocks and trees but now the land registry needs an accurate picture of the land as they update their records with new purchases. It is advisable that any ruins should be included in the topographical survey as this can class as buildable area should you decide to expand the footprint of the house.
Once all the correct checks have been made, normally a Promissory Contract is made and both parties agree to the sale. This can be made by the estate agent or your chosen lawyer. This is accompanied by a deposit of 10-20%. Once this Promissory is in place, there is a financial penalty to both sides. If the buyer backs out, they forfeit their deposit and if the seller backs out they are legally obliged to return double the deposit.
The Promissory Contract (contrato de promessa de compra e venda) contains;
Once the Promissory is in place, the Deed of Purchase and Sale (Escitura Publica de Compra e Venda) is drawn up. Prior to signing this, the lawyer or solicitor will make a number of additional checks on the property. These will include
When all checks are completed the Escitura can then be signed by both parties in the presence of the Notary and balance of monies exchanged. This can be done by Power of Attorney (Procuração) if you wish. The Notary will also make sure that all taxes have been paid.
Once the Escitura has been signed, the Notary will issue you with a stamped and certified copy and you can get additional copies, which is advisable. The original will carry the seal of the Notary but do not confuse this for a Title Deed. The property then needs to be registered on the Land Registry (Conservatoria do Registo Predial), for which there is a charge for each Article (artigo) and needs to be submitted within 30 days. Effectively, you are not the legal owner of a property until the Escitura has been registered at the land registry.
Just as a final note, don’t forget to register with the tax office (finanças) and all your services such as water, gas, electric and telephone.
Hey Portugal now have a sister company on the Silver Coast 0 Hey Portugal Property Medicacao Imobiliaria offer a one-stop-shop for buyers.